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Living with Dementia Next Door: A Memory Care Program at St. John in the Wilderness

Updated: Sep 1, 2023

Whether you call it dementia, Alzheimer's, or memory loss, the result is the same: it's a disease that changes everything. With our growing aging population, and without a cure anywhere on the horizon, we are called to learn all we can about a condition that will affect at least 50% of us. Join us for this three-part series that will help you better understand the challenges of dementia and how can reach out to the families in your community who are living with this condition.

Each session will be held at St. John from 2:00 to 3:00pm, with light refreshments served at 1:45pm. Sessions will be held in either the Wilderness Room or Parish Hall - to be determined. Please RSVP to the Parish Office by email or by calling 828-693-9783.

PART 1: Awareness

Thursday, October 19

Could this be Alzheimer's?

Normal vs. not normal aging

The difference between Alzheimer's and dementia

Understanding a changing brain - what's lost, what's left

PART 2: Recognition

Thursday, October 26

Common early signs of dementia

The basics of communication - learning new rules

PART 3: Understanding

Thursday, November 2

Adapting to progression and stages

Addressing caregiver stress

How can I help?

The number of Americans with Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia is growing--and growing fast. It is the only disease in the top ten causes of death that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed. This is a condition which is more misunderstood and misrepresented than any other--and yet we will all be impacted by it at some point. As much as half of our population will develop some form of dementia, which means it will fall to the other half to be the caregivers.

Since we can't effectively fight dementia at this time, we must learn how we can live better with it--and that means education.

Mary Donnelly is a nationally recognized dementia consultant and educator from MemoryCare of Asheville. Her three-part presentation will address the most common questions that arise about dementia and Alzheimer's: how to define it, recognize it, and accept it. The program is appropriate for adults of all ages and will offer relevant information and realistic strategies for caring for those affected by this condition.

About the Program Facilitator: Mary Donnelly, Dementia Consultant

A past Board President of MemoryCare of Asheville, Mary Donnelly founded and coordinates the MemoryCaregivers Network, writes and edits a bi-monthly e-newsletter, Caregiver Network News, and is part of the teaching staff for their annual caregiver education series. She is also on the staff of national dementia expert Teepa Snow, holding multiple roles as Trainer, Consultant, Mentor, and Speaker. Mary serves on the Steering Committee of Dementia Friendly Western North Carolina, a grassroots organization promoting dementia awareness and education. She co-facilitates five area support groups, provides family counseling and on-site staff dementia training for long-term care facilities, and is a dynamic speaker on dementia-related issues across the country.

When she's not working, Mary can often be found on a hiking trail in the Blue Ridge Mountains, or when weather permits, on cross-country skis. Mary lives in Asheville with her crooner husband Tom and their celebrity dog Sammy.

Mary's Endorsements

"I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate this program! [Mary Donnelly] is phenomenal! She is so knowledgeable, experienced, insightful, and compassionate. She really understands dementia! Everything she says is so informative and helpful! Thank you so much for doing this program! It's exactly what I need in order to know how to cope with family members who are showing these signs of dementia."

- Virtual Attendee, 2020

"I've attended Mary's workshops, listened to her presentations, and participated in her support groups. She is pure gold.

  1. Her knowledge of dementia is wide and deep. It's what she does. It's all she does.

  2. Her teaching and communicating skills are excellent.

  3. In dealing with caregivers, she is empathetic and supportive (she listens long and well), but her focus is on action--helping people cope.

  4. Her help is specific and practical. When caregivers come up against a behavior that is baffling and crazy-making (Why are they doing that?), Mary explains why and offers half a dozen specific ways to deal with it."

- NC Class Participant, 2021

"Mary Donnelly is an exceptional speaker and a highly valued resource for MemoryCare's caregiver education initiatives. Her engaging style, energy, and delivery are superb. She has excellent knowledge to share, as well as compassion and insight for families who are facing dementia. She will inform, inspire, and impact your life!"

- Margaret A. Noel, MD, Founder of MemoryCare

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